MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - An unexpected meeting of the Executive Committee of the Alabama State University Board of Trustees was called Monday to which the university's new president was summoned. When the closed door meeting was over, Dr. Joseph H. Silver, who's only been ASU's president since September, found himself on paid administrative leave.
Dr. Silver, who spoke with WSFA 12 News moments after the meeting concluded, said he stumbled onto "something" and was told to back off. He said he was not caught off guard by Monday's decision, saying he's received emails and phone calls from individuals who were telling him he was, "raising too many questions, long established folk, be careful. Because they have long friendships, and they're going to try to bring you down. "
Silver would not address specifics, though he added "right is right", and he had to do what's right for ASU's students.
Silver said that earlier Monday, "The Board indicated they wanted me to resign, and I told them that that was not going to be the case." Silver said he's done nothing that would require him to resign.
Silver said he'd been told, "I had interfered with relationships", but contends "the only relationships that I need to deal with is that of the University..."
Silver was even more surprised at what he called the Board's decision to place Executive Vice President John Knight in charge of day to day operations. Silver says he fired Knight, along with Vice President of University Relations Danielle Kennedy earlier in the day "for cause". He would not elaborate.
University officials tell WSFA 12 News that Knight was told of his "dismissal" until the time of the board meeting.
A spokesperson for Alabama State said both Knight, who is also a state representative, and Kennedy remain in their positions.
"I think the students here will tell you I have been a stellar president. I think the faculty will tell you that," Silver explained. Silver was announced as the new president in May 2012 after Dr. William H. Harris retired from the position. Silver served as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta prior to coming to ASU.
Silver said he was not hurt by the Board's decision and did not take it personally. He said it was all business.
ASU students are planning a rally Tuesday at 11:00am in front of the Acadome on campus.
The full board of trustees is scheduled to meet Thursday at 1:00pm to discuss what steps will be taken now that Silver is on leave.
WSFA 12 News has a crew working to confirm additional information. Check back for updates.